Animals, Bird Baths, Composting, How To, Megan, Ponds, Wildlife

How To Care For Wildlife in Winter

As we approach the winter months, it is time for a lot of wildlife to find a cosy spot somewhere to hibernate. Species that do not hibernate prepare for harsh weather and a lot struggle to find food. This is where your garden can come in. By learning how to care for wildlife in winter you can save the lives of some wildlife that otherwise wouldn’t make it through the harsher winter months.

Hedgehogs

how to care for wildlife in winter - hedgehog

In order for hedgehogs to survive their winter hibernation, they need to have a substantial amount of fat stored. You can help boost their fat reserves by leaving out small plates of meaty pet food, along with crunchy pet biscuits, which will help take care of their teeth. Once hedgehogs are ready to hibernate they like warm spots under piles of leaves and in logs. We suggest when collecting leaves, instead of composting all of them, place some underneath hedges at the edge of the garden. This creates welcome places hedgehogs can make a home for the winter. Talking of compost heaps, hedgehogs often like to nest in them so ensure you check your compost for hedgehogs before turning it over. Alternatively you could buy a ready-built hedgehog home for hedgehogs to settle in to.

Birds

how to care for wildlife in winter - bird on a branch

As birds do not hibernate, it is important to provide them lots of food and a water source over winter. Food in the wild can be scarce over the colder months. To help prevent starvation, have a variety of foods available to them over a number of feeding stations. Feeding stations range from bird tables to hanging feeders to ground feeding stations. The more variety of bird food you put out, the more diverse a species of bird you will find in your garden. Peanuts, bird seed mix, fat balls as well as any leftover dried fruit are all good choices and will attract blue tits to robins to goldfinches. To find out more about what bird food to put out check out our article here. It is also important to make sure birds have access to fresh water. Keep your birdbath topped up and ensure it doesn’t freeze over by placing a table tennis ball at the surface of the water.

Pond life

how to care for wildlife in winter - frog in a pond

Many of your fish will hibernate at the bottom of your pond during the winter months. It is vital that your pond does not freeze over during extra cold spells. This can trap poisonous gases, as well as suffocate frogs and the like. Help prevent this by placing a tennis ball at the surface or installing a pond heater. If it does freeze over, place a pan of boiling water on its surface to allow the ice to melt. Ensure you remove any fallen leaves and dead plant matter from your pond. If you leave this it can release harmful gases as it decomposes.

Insects

how to care for wildlife in winter - butterfly on leaf

Insects are often long forgotten when it comes to garden wildlife, but they are an important part of your garden’s ecosystem. Many play the vital role of pollination in your garden. Others are great predator control. One way you can help insects in the winter is by letting the grass on your lawn grow wildly. Try and resist mowing it until spring. This allows a place for butterflies and other insects to shelter from the harsh weather. Another way to provide shelter, as well as food for some creatures, is to create a log pile. You can also drill holes in the logs to create housing for solitary bees. Alternatively, buy a solitary bee pollinator house. Once you’ve built your log pile, be sure not to disturb it as not to interfere with the wildlife community inside.

Megan at PrimroseMegan works in the Primrose marketing team. When she is not at her desk you will find her half way up a hill in the Chilterns
or enjoying the latest thriller series on Netflix. Megan also enjoys cooking vegetarian feasts with veggies from her auntie’s vegetable garden.

See all of Megan’s posts.

Gardening, George, Grow Your Own, How To, Plants, Watering

sowing a lawn from seed

Whether you’ve been giving your garden a makeover or want to touch up a patchy lawn, growing your own grass is a rewarding and straightforward task. Nothing quite beats a rich natural carpet for relaxing or playing on, and a thick lawn can really enhance your garden. Late spring and autumn are the best times to sow seeds, just outside of the frosty periods and while it’s wet enough to save on watering. Read on to learn about sowing a lawn from seed and before too long you will have a lush green garden to enjoy.

How to sow a new lawn in 6 steps

Step 1 – Prepare the soil

Smooth out the area of earth where you want to grow your new lawn. Then rake over it so the surface has open trenches to take in the seeds.

preparing soil

Step 2 – Sow the seeds

Take your grass seed and sprinkle over the soil. To start a new lawn, use 70g per m2 – to thicken up an existing lawn, 50g per m2 will do. Aim for an even covering of the soil, sprinkling by hand or using a spreader tool.

Step 3 – Mix in

Use the rake to gently mix the seeds into the top level of soil. Go lightly to avoid leaving any bare patches or putting the seeds too deep.

watering grass

Step 4 – Watering

Follow our watering schedule to ensure your seeds get enough hydration as they begin to grow:

First fortnight – Water lightly twice a day using a fine spray to avoid washing the seeds away.
Second fortnight – Water once a day or every other day depending on how quickly the soil dries out.
Second month – Water more heavily, twice a week.
Third month – Water once a week.
Up to 6 months – Water enough to stop it drying out, then let nature take over.

How to Keep Lawn Edges Neat

Step 5 – Mowing

Soon enough, your budding new grass will need its first trim. You should start to get shoots within the first two weeks. When the grass reaches 5cm tall and it’s a dry day, it’s time to cut. Mow slowly and don’t cut it right back – the plants are still tender. For the first four times you mow, just give it a little trim. After that you can gradually start to cut it back to your desired length.

Step 6 – Lawn care

For the best start in life, you’ll need to give your turf a little TLC. After 3 months you can start regular feeding with lawn fertiliser. But avoid using liquid fertiliser until 6 months. Fertilisers are often specialised for summer or autumn – make sure you use the right type or you will encourage growths that could be damaged at that time of year.

Don’t use weedkiller during the first 6 months either as it may kill the new shoots. Instead weed by hand. After the first year, you can begin aerating the lawn too.

growing lawn

And there you have our six step plan to lawn growing success! We hope these tips help and inspire you to trying out sowing from seed. Alternatively, you can compare real with artificial grass and see which might be best for your garden.

George at PrimroseGeorge works in the Primrose marketing team. As a lover of all things filmic, he also gets involved with our TV ads and web videos.

George’s idea of the perfect time in the garden is a long afternoon sitting in the shade with a good book. A cool breeze, peace and quiet… But of course, he’s usually disturbed by his energetic wire fox terrier, Poppy!

He writes about his misadventures in repotting plants and new discoveries about cat repellers.

See all of George’s posts.

Garden Design, Gardening, Gardens, Tyler

The question that you ask yourself about the patch you have in your garden is; should I go for Natural Grass or Artificial Grass? Fear not as we have just the post for you! Here is a breakdown of both options and an evaluation of which is best for you.

artificial grass

Artificial Grass

First off we’re going to start with the placement holder of grass, Artificial Grass. Artificial turf is a surface made out of synthetic fibres to look just like the real thing. It was originally made to replace grass in sports facilities as sports usually requires the ground to be in great condition and artificial turf was a great option. Now, Artificial Grass is becoming more popular in residential gardens around the world! Here are the Pros on having Artificial Grass in your garden.

Benefits of Artificial Grass

  • There is little to no maintenance needed for artificial grass; There will be no need to cut it on a weekly basis!
  • If you have a pet that spends a lot of time in the garden, you won’t have to worry about your grass being worn down by them constantly going up and down the garden.
  • It’s season friendly! This means that at any time of the year, you can walk across your garden without the worry of carrying mud with you into your house.
  • Artificial grass won’t need to be watered. That means in the Summer, you won’t have to worry about watering the grass.
  • If there is a patch in your garden that doesn’t get much sunlight and always seems to be frozen or doesn’t grow, Artificial grass allows you to fill that patch!

natural grass

Natural Grass

Now if you’re looking to the more natural side of your garden, then stick with natural grass. All that is needed to grow Grass is you guessed it… Grass seeds. Grass seeds are best sown in the summer to mid autumn. This can be a long period but if grown properly with plenty of water and sunlight, it’ll be worth the wait. Here are the benefits of having Natural Grass in your back garden:

Benefits of Natural Grass

  • Having real grass in your back garden is all round better for the environment. Grass helps produce Oxygen like every other plant so it would help benefit us all!
  • Real Grass will give your garden a natural feel and look and will complement the beautiful flowers and plants in your garden. It also allows the wildlife to have more comfort too.
  • Once your grass has grown and looking great in your garden, you’ll have the moment  pride due to growing and maintaining your new green patch.
  • The smell of freshly cut grass; who doesn’t love the smell!

In summary, both options will bring out the green in your garden and have many benefits to consider so really it’s down to personal preference. If you’re looking to have grass that is maintenance-free and will look great all year round, then Artificial grass is a great option to go forward with. However, if you want that natural feel to your garden and have the time to maintain and grow grass then keep it natural with real grass.

Tyler at PrimroseTyler works in the Primrose Marketing team, mainly working on Social Media and Online Marketing.

Tyler is a big fan on everything sports and supports Arsenal Football Club. When not writing Primrose blogs and tweets, you can find Tyler playing for his local Sunday football team or in the gym.

See all of Tyler’s posts.

Bulbs, Composting, Gardening, How To, Planting, Victoria Giang

The cold winter weather is fast approaching. For gardening enthusiasts, this means that it will soon be time to put your hoses and tools away until the growing season returns next spring. However, your gardening tasks aren’t quite done for the year yet, as you still need to ensure that your beds and plants are prepared to handle the freezing temperatures. Preparing your garden in the autumn also helps to ensure healthy, more vigorous growth next year. With this in mind, we’ll now take a look at four simple steps to ensure your garden is ready for winter.

pruning shears

1. Shield Perennials and Bulbs from the Cold

Annual plants can simply be pulled up and tossed in the compost pile when they die. However, any perennials and bulb plants may need a bit of extra protection to keep them alive through the winter.

Before the first frost arrives, it is best to start cutting back on how much you water any perennials to help harden them up and better prepare them for winter. Once the plants have finished for the year, it is also a good idea to trim back the stems so that they’re only about 6 to 8 inches high. Doing so will help to shield the plants from the cold and also allow them to grow more vigorously when the warm weather arrives.

Any bulb plants that flower in the early spring can usually be left in the ground throughout the winter. However, any bulbs that flower in the summer should be dug up and stored inside to prevent them from being damaged by the cold. This includes freesias, elephant’s ears, cannas, calla lilies and other later-blooming flowers.

After gently digging the bulbs up, shake off any excess dirt and then allow the bulbs to dry in the sun for approximately a week. Finally, store them in a cardboard box surrounded by plenty of peat, sawdust or newspaper so that none of the bulbs are touching.

bulbs

2. Consider Some Last-Minute Planting

Autumn is the ideal time to plant any early-flowering bulbs such as tulips, daffodil, iris, etc. In fact, the only way to ensure that your bulb flowers will bloom in the spring is to plant them in the early autumn before the ground freezes. Most early-flowering bulbs need to freeze during the winter in order to grow in the autumn. This means they need to either be in the ground or stored in a freezer.

Many varieties of perennials also work well when planted in the winter due to the drier ground and lower temperatures. If you’re growing a vegetable garden, planting onions and garlic during the autumn allows them to be harvested several months earlier the following year.

adding compost

3. Compost Garden and Flower Beds

Adding compost during the autumn helps to provide additional nutrients to your plants the next spring. Composting during the autumn allows the nutrients more time to break down and infiltrate deeper into the soil, which in turn provides better growing conditions the following season. Generally speaking, you should spread a thin layer of compost over the top of the soil, and then work the compost deeper into the ground sometime around or just after the first freeze.

mulch

4. Use Mulch to Protect Your Top Soil

Another good idea is to spread a layer of mulch or dead leaves before the first freeze. Adding a layer of mulch on top of your beds helps to protect any plants left in the ground from the freezing temperatures. In addition, the mulch will also help to prevent rain, snow and ice from washing away your top soil or leeching out its nutrients. However, the layer of mulch shouldn’t be much more than three to four inches thick as otherwise it could choke out your plants and make it harder for them to bloom in the spring.

If you are lucky enough to live in a fairly warm climate with milder winters, you probably won’t have to do much to prepare your garden. However, if you live in a place where it frequently freezes or where there is a lot of winter precipitation, it is essential that you take the proper steps to your garden. Winter can wreak havoc on your garden if you’re not careful, so it’s important that you do what you can to protect it.

Victoria GiangVictoria is a home working mom and the author of How Daily, a blog that shares her taste and experience on food, recipes, home & garden projects. These are ranging widely from quick cleaning of household appliance to planting and caring for garden favorites.

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